The Most Gorgeous Buddha Statues in Thailand

| © Ilona Tymchenko / Alamy
Sarah Williams

A predominantly Buddhist nation, it is little surprise to find that Thailand has thousands of Buddhist temples and even more statues of the Lord Buddha in various postures. Big and small, standing, sitting, walking, and reclining, and made from plaster, stone, wood, metal, and various other materials, Thailand’s Buddha statues are diverse. Here are some of the most beautiful Buddha statues around the country.

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Phra Kaeo Morakot

Thailand’s most revered Buddha image, Phra Kaeo Morakot, is housed within Bangkok’s Wat Phra Kaeo, known also as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Many tourists come to ogle the famous statue, and many Thais come to pray and show their respects. Seated on a raised platform and measuring around 66 centimetres in height, the statue is made from green jade. It is wrapped in a golden cloth, and the Thai King is the only person permitted to touch the statue to change the cloth. Discovered in the 1400s in Northern Thailand, it was moved between several Thai and Laotian temples before finally arriving at its present location in the 1780s.

Phra Buddha Chinnarat

Phra Buddha Chinnarat is a golden Sukhothai-style Buddha statue in Phitsanulok’s historic temple of Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat. Many Thai people see the statue as the most beautiful Buddha statue in the whole of Thailand. The statue’s name translates as “The King of Victory.” It is in the “Calling the Earth to Witness” posture, with crossed legs, one hand resting in the lap, and the other pointing toward the ground. This pose is representative of the time that the Lord Buddha reached enlightenment.

Phra Buddha Maha Nawamin

Phra Buddha Maha Nawamin is the largest Buddha statue in Thailand and among the biggest Buddha statues in the world. Also known as “The Great Buddha of Thailand,” the gigantic golden statue can be found at Wat Muang Monastery in Ang Thong province. Seen from far and wide, the striking statue is 92 metres tall and 63 metres wide. It is in the “Calling the Earth to Witness” pose and is made from concrete that has been painted gold.

Phra Phutta Ming Mongkol Akenakiri

Often referred to as simply “The Big Buddha,” Phra Phutta Ming Mongkol Akenakiri is one of Phuket’s major attractions. Sitting high in the Nakkerd Hills, the pale statue seems to radiate in the sunshine. The seated statue is made from concrete and adorned with Burmese jade marble. It’s a large statue, standing at 45 metres tall.

Phra Buddhasaiyas

Among Bangkok’s most famous Buddha statues, Phra Buddhasaiyas is a long reclining Buddha image in the position known as “The Nirvana Buddha.” The statue is sometimes referred to as either the reclining or sleeping Buddha. It is within the temple of Wat Phra Chetuphon Vimolmangklararm Rajwaramahaviharn, which is more commonly known as Wat Pho. Built in the 1830s, the long statue stretches for more than 45 metres. The statue’s feet are particularly attractive; the soles are split into different sections that show various symbols of Buddhism, and they are decorated with mother of pearl.

Phra Phuttha Maha Suwana Patimakon

Housed in Chinatown’s Wat Traimit, Phra Phuttha Maha Suwana Patimakon is also known as the Golden Buddha. It is the biggest Buddha statue in the world to be made from solid gold. The statue has a long and interesting history, and it was disguised for many years. The statue is thought to date back to the Sukhothai period (1238-1438), but its true identity only became known in the mid-1950s.

Five-Buddha statue at Wat Phra That Pha Kaew

Established as a religious site in 2004, Wat Phra That Pha Kaew (previously called Pha Sorn Kaew) officially became a temple in 2010. Located in Phetchabun province, it is a centre for meditation. The glorious colourful temple is one of the most stunning in the country, and the dazzling white five-Buddha statue stands spectacularly against the green hilly background. The elevated position means that clouds often hang close to the statue, giving it even more of an ethereal air. Sitting cross-legged amid lotus petals, the five Buddha images decrease in height. The biggest has a golden head decoration and other golden details, while the others are mostly pure white.

Phra Buddha Metta Pracha Thai Trailokanath Gandhararath Anusorn

With the huge and grandiose name of Phra Buddha Metta Pracha Thai Trailokanath Gandhararath Anusorn, this impressive Buddha statue is in Kanchanaburi’s modern temple of Wat Thipsukhontharam. The statue is standing with its hands in the position known as “abhaya”; this posture is one of protection and fearlessness and is based on a Buddhist tale of the Lord Buddha stopping a charging elephant by raising his hand. The statue’s face is exceptionally serene. Cast from bronze and standing at more than 30 metres tall, it is Thailand’s biggest standing bronze Buddha statue.

Phra Achana

Phra Achana is one of the most beautiful Buddha statues in the ancient city of Sukhothai. Located in Wat Si Chum, the large seated statue’s name means “the one who is not frightened.” Local legends tell of a Burmese army running away in surrender upon seeing the statue. Part of what makes the statue so visually appealing is its setting; it is housed within a large and now-roofless hall, with the statue partially visible through a tall and slender opening. The long fingers have been coated in gold leaf for good luck.

Burmese Buddha of Wat Phra That Suthon Mongkon Khiri

The temple of Wat Phra That Suthon Mongkon Khiri is in the Northern Thai province of Phrae. It is a fairly modern temple that has traditional Lanna-style architecture and details. It boasts an attractive reclining statue of the Lord Buddha that is rather different to others found across the country. The statue is in a Burmese style with more colour than many of Thailand’s other Buddha statues. The face is also more feminine. The figure’s skin is pale, wrapped in a pale yellow robe, the lips are bright red, and the eyes are ringed with deep black liner. The large feet display typical Buddhist symbols.

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